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Saturday, 16 June 2018 17:29

Art As Breath

Written by  Priscilla K. Garatti

That art should be so elusive is deeply mysterious.  In many respects it seems so straightforward.  What art demands of us has remained constant down through the centuries--that we slow down, observe, contemplate, court quiet, practice stillness, live as if we have all the time in the world, knowing full well that we don't.~Richard Russo (from The Destiny Thief--Essays On Writing, Writer's And Life)

I spied the white rectangle in a shadowy corner of the parking garage as I walked to my car.  When I got closer, I saw that it was an old cassette tape, streaked with mud, a wrinkled label coming unglued from its surface that read Staying The Course. I almost threw the tape in the trash bin, but took it to my car.  I held the tape in my hands and read the title again, that phrase a kindness, a gentle touch there in that noisy concrete building.

But I wasn't staying the course.  I'd ended the week lying on my couch, consumed with exhaustion from the day's chaos and experiencing shame after eating too much sugar.   All I had energy for was watching a movie, and even then, I didn't know if I'd be able to stay awake. I was intrigued by the film's title, Nostalgia.  I was not disappointed.  I did not fall asleep.  The movie contained many of the themes that intrigue me--time, memory, paradox--the reality that we humans have the ability to transcend loss and pain--that we are at once frail and resilient.  After the film I felt revived by its beauty, my feelings of shame diluted.  God's gift to me.   Art as breath.

This morning I felt as if I needed to "court quiet."  I came to my study in the spirit of a child, folded hands, my head bowed.  "God," I prayed.  "I crave your stillness, your living water.  Your restoration, your intimacy, your affection.  I am parched."  I could almost feel His breath upon me, inflating me once again, my shame not only diluted, but dissolved.  I would not give up at work.  I would keep "practicing stillness" to help me continue pursuing the art of writing.  I would forgive myself for eating so much sugar and begin again.  I would stay the course.